How Thinking Sooner Can Help You
Follow Through on Good Intentions Later
It's easier to think at your desk than on your feet. Knowing this, you can make it easier to follow through on your own good intentions.
Good intentions often fail when "something" comes up. For example, you intend to exercise at lunch, but then at 11:45 you see you won't finish what you're doing in time to leave. Or you plan to make a difficult phone call on a given day, but there never seems to be a good time.
Is that "something" a legitimate reason to change course? Or a rationalization for avoiding doing what you intended?
It's a judgment call. But to make it, you need to answer a few questions. What are the arguments each way? What are the consequences of each choice? Is there an ulterior motive distorting your perspective?
Answering these questions doesn't take rocket science, just common sense. But when that "something" comes up, you may not be not in an ideal mental state to do the thinking. You may feel pulled in two directions, burdened by time pressure and doubt. Many people have trouble thinking on their feet at such a time. Common sense fails them.
Now, I teach tactics that could help you deal with this pressure. You could "think on paper" for 1-3 minutes, using techniques to clear the confusion and address the conflict. But frankly, it is better to avoid this pressured situation altogether.
It's better to do that thinking earlier--in advance--at the time when you set your intention. At the moment of commitment, you are motivated. The reasons for scheduling time at the gym or putting the phone call on your agenda are clear. This is the optimal time to think through contingencies.
With just the slightest additional effort, you can predict the real and rationalized obstacles that could get in the way of following through. And then you can troubleshoot them. What will you do if you can't leave for the gym on time? What will you tell yourself to make sure you make that call no matter what? Do you need to set a reminder?
By thinking through the issues in advance, you eliminate the pressure when "something" comes up. You won't have to think about what to do, you can simply remember your conclusion. Remembering on your feet is much easier than thinking on your feet.
So, next time you form a good intention, seize the opportunity. Follow through on your good intention now, by thinking through how you'll handle the "somethings" later. Ensure nothing will stop you from following through on your good intention, when it's time to act.
* * *
Thinking is your way out of many difficulties. In your mental databanks, you have a tremendous amount of experience and expertise that can help you with all your toughest problems, decisions, and people issues. You can learn to access this information in recorded, Tap Your Own Brilliance.
This article originally appeared in the Thinking Directions newsletter on 9/10/11.